Texas' Future Medal of Honor Museum Will Showcase This Rare Icon of Vietnam War

June 22, 2024
Huey Helicopter at the Medal of Honor Museum

Arlington’s National Medal of Honor Museum welcomed its largest artifact at an event Thursday night.

A fully restored Vietnam-era Huey helicopter will be a centerpiece of the future museum’s 31,000-square-foot exhibition gallery when it opens in March in the city’s entertainment district.

Veterans gathered at the site Thursday for a celebration of the Bell UH-1 Iroquois helicopter’s arrival. Retired Maj. Gen. Patrick Brady said the balmy evening reminded him of his time in Vietnam. He earned the Medal of Honor for actions while flying the iconic chopper.

“I can [still] fly that thing,” Brady joked during a “fireside chat” with CBS 11’s Jason Allen. “You know, it’s like riding a bicycle, but nobody will ride with me.”

Brady received the Medal of Honor in 1969 for piloting a mission that rescued 51 men from enemy territory.

The occasion was significant, too, for John Tabor, who served as a medic with the 9th Infantry Division, piloting the same kind of helicopter.

“I think it’s the greatest thing in the world for young people to see the equipment we had back then,” Tabor said. “Every soldier that got on a medevac aircraft, 95 percent of them survived.”

The helicopter had a long journey to Arlington.

First, Chuck Carlock acquired it from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

“We loaded it in the snow, had to have a big crane out there to take the rotor head off because it was too tall and the trailer was real low,” said Carlock, who flew Hueys during the war.

The helicopter was restored in Murrieta, California, by Aircraft Restoration Services, a Vietnam veteran-owned company that specializes in Huey restorations. James Rodgers, a former Huey pilot in the war, worked on the project.

The helicopter became part of Carlock’s collection of seven helicopters, and traveled around the country to veteran reunions and events in Washington D.C., Florida, Tennessee and Louisiana.

Carlock said he had agreed never to sell the helicopter, so when he heard the Medal of Honor Museum was looking for one, he donated it right away — free of charge.

“That’s what I did it for,” he said. “You don’t want to give it to someone where they don’t take care of it, and [the museum] is going to take care of it.”

Now, the chopper will finally find its resting place in history.

“When you see this,” said Arlington council member Mauricio Galante, “and hear the general that earned himself a Medal of Honor in action and gave us an example of valor and courage in combat? Makes us all count the days for [the museum’s] opening.”

The museum near Choctaw Stadium will be a national institution dedicated to telling the stories of America’s more than 3,500 recipients of the highest military decoration for valor in combat. The museum will aim to humanize these war heroes to help visitors relate and be inspired to do great things in their own lives. The exhibits will tell the “origin stories” of these Americans who ended up doing extraordinary acts of bravery.

The museum also will show what happened to the servicemen after the war — how those who survived went on to contribute in many ways to their communities.

It is expected to attract 650,000 to 800,000 visitors a year.

The museum’s foundation is also planning a monument to Medal of Honor recipients on the National Mall not far from the Lincoln Memorial.

©2024 Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Visit star-telegram.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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